Photoblogging posts- how I spent my Easter weekend

Photoblogging is blogging with photos and sometimes but not always captions.  This is day 13 of 20 days to better blogging with children.

Dog Sitting



Photoblogs to explore (please check that all images are suitable for children before showing):

Have a go with children.

Creating Comics with Pixton

I am thinking about collaborative writing at the moment and I also love comic creation sites as they have so many uses in the classroom.  With Pixton you can do both.  Pixton allows you to create comics and then make them available for others to remix.

Comics are a great way to show pace through a story.  The larger the frame the slower the pace.  They can be used to sequence the main events of a story.  They can be used to explore how stories can be made to move on when told through speech.

This is such a flexible tool.  Characters expressions, features, clothing and positions can all be changed.  You can zoom in or zoom out, add props, add backgrounds and change the colour of almost anything.

I invite you to remix this cartoon and add your own ideas.  Post a link in the comments section so that we can see the changes.

For soon to be updates at Pixton read the Free Tech 4 Teachers post

Using Images in Literacy to Support Writing

Visual literacy is a vital part of life nowadays. It exists as an area in its own right but it can also be used to support the teaching and learning of  writing. This post is an attempt to describe how we do that. We:-

  • use images to support understanding of literary techniques, e.g. putting title slides in a film that has been run through Moviemaker to show where there would be paragraph changes if it was a written text
  • use images to demonstrate understanding, e.g. collecting a group of images that reflect the meaning of a poem or the theme of a story (focus on images that show not tell)
  • use images to support memory and create a shared understanding, e.g this is most frequently used after a trip or a visitor to the classroom
  • use images to suppport vocabulary development, watch the film for an example of this

Generating description from joy simpson on Vimeo.

  • use images to support understanding of text structure, e.g. through sequencing activities which can develop to show flash backs and other time management techniques
  • use images to help create the message for the reader, e.g. choice of image in a persuasive text or an explanatory text
  • create film

Using Animoto, Slideshare and BigHugeLabs

I recently joined a fantastic group called Images4Education where as a very large, international group we are undertaking a six week course in using images in education.  Our task for week 3 was to use  some photographs and try out three slide shows; Animoto, Slideshare and BigHugeLabs.  I was already familiar with the first two so thought that I would use the same photos in each slideshow and share what I learnt about them and when I might use them in the classroom with children.

The images I used were all taken on a project launch that we had earlier in January looking at improving writing.  One of the aspects that we modelled was creating a working wall.  This is a temporary display that we build as we move through a teaching sequence.  These images show the working wall.

This first show is created in Animoto.  What is good about this is you input your images, add some music from their collection of music, thus avoiding copyright issues, and then Animoto will put it all together for you. 

BigHugeLabs is something that was new to me.  Another good name for it is Flickr toys!  To use this site you need a Flickr account .  You input your slides from Flickr, organise the order and your presentation is made.  The disappointing aspect of this is that there is no embed code only a URL code so it doesn’t look as good on blogs or wikis. (If I missed the embed code and someone knows about it please let me know)

View slideshow

And finally SlideShare.  Here you upload your powerpoint and, if you want, a voice track which I made in Audacity. The programme then allows you to section the sound track to synchronise with the slides which is quite nifty.

View more presentations or upload your own. (tags: teaching literacy)

 So what did I learn?

  • Sort out the orientation of your slides in Flickr before importing into BigHugeLabs
  • For the purposes of my slideshow, Slideshare was the most appropriate.
  • Although BigHugeLabs was easy to use, the fact that I can’t embed it means that I don’t think it is quite as useful as the other two.  The image quality is very good.
  • Animoto is great where you want the images to do the talking.  I have an educator account and so can make much longer videos.  It is worth signing up for one.

Overall, it is clear the that the purpose of your show will determine which tool you use.

Links to other posts:

Let me know what your experiences are of these three tools.



Animoto for Digital Storytelling

   On the wonderful site you input the images and choose the music and the site will then analyse them, add movement and create a film for you.  What could be easier?  They have even thought about e-safety features and offer a secure environment for teachers and schools.  (Scroll to the bottom of their page and click on education).

  To see some examples that children have made have a look at the Redbridge Primary ICT Consultant blog

To see how easy it is to use Animoto, let Mark Woolley show you how.

 So.  What is the difference between Photo Story 3 and Animoto?  If you have

  • time
  • want to focus on how to put together images, sound, text and movement together to see the effects that it will have

You will use Photo Story.  If you need

  • somthing that is quick
  • that demonstrates the thinking behind the images

Then Animoto is for you. With thanks to  Gail Lovely  and  @jennyluca for helping me come to these conclusions.

5 Uses for Animoto in the literacy classroom

  1. Create a film to show the meaning/theme behind a poem or a story
  2. Take images and use Animoto to produce a film to persuade parents to send their children to your school
  3. Create a reminder of an important event to embed on a blog, wiki, website
  4. Create a series of images that summarise a whole story and use Animoto to create a film of them
  5. Write interesting vocabulary and phrases from a story/poem onto sheets of paper.  Use appropriate fonts and colours.  Use Animoto to  create a film of them and then use this as a prompt to include them in your own writing.

Photo Story 3 versus Animoto

There is a lot of talk at the moment about Animoto.  This is a site that you upload your images to, you can now add text and add music and it will then turn  your pictures into a film zooming in and out of the images and changing the transitions.

My question is how is this different/better than Photo Story 3?  With Photo Story 3 there are none of the e-safety issues which admittedly  Animoto have found a way around but it involves setting up dummy emails etc.  Anyone got any views on this?

Digital Storytelling

For the month of January I thought I would focus in on resources that can help us develop digital storytelling in the classroom.

What is digital storytelling?  Well I think the easiest definition is story telling using tools on the computer which could consist of  sound or images or the orchestration of sound, moving and still images, voices over and text.  Digital storytelling originally started off as a way of recording ‘ordinary’ people’s life stories but in the classroom encompasses telling all sorts of stories, your own and others’.

I am going to assume that you have already mastered Powerpoint and adding sound to slides so will start with Photostory 3 as this programme takes you through step by step to create a film.

To find out how to download Photo Story 3 and to see a series of short films that show you how to use it go to

If you have used Photo Story in the classroom please let us know how it went and what your children produced.


Writing Myths and Legends

 This site is a great online resource for writing myths and legends produced by the East England Learning Grid.

On the site you will find myths and legends which you can share and enjoy as a class both in the written form and animated.  The best part of the site is the Story Creator where children can create images and write their own myths and legends.  The site has a full gallery of images to include in stories as well as sounds but you can also upload your own images and record your own voice over.

Once stories have been created they can be added to the site and others, who have been approved by the site, can view them and comment on them.

If you have used this resource let us know how you got on by posting a comment.

Visual Literacy – Comic Life

comic-life-pod – to hear about Comic Life click on the link.


This is a fantastic bit of software.  It takes pictures from your computer or captures them from a webcam and then puts them into a comic format.  See the software at where you can download a free 30 day trial.  You can add text and call-outs and decide which bits of your photos should appear in the boxes.  This would definitely be useful for motivating children to write for a whole variety of purposes.

Uses for Comic Life that spring to mind immediately are:

  • telling a life story
  • looking at the pace of a story and what type of box should be used in slower parts and the quicker parts
  • retelling of stories either through images from the web or from those taken by the children
  • explaining a process – mummification jumps to mind

Charles Thacker has written a detailed article with references about using comics in education.  With many thanks to Digital Teacher for the recommendation.

There is a free 30 day trial on this software and after that it is only £49 available from Tag.  Well worth it.